Jeff Minter

Jeff Minter

In 1981 Jeff Minter started independently writing and selling video games for the Sinclair ZX80, the first machine he owned. Some were made for software company dk’tronics. These titles were sold as a package but this was not available for very long, as Minter left the company following a royalties dispute. He formed a partnership with his mother, Hazel Minter. Together they developed and commercially produced 20 games for the Sinclair ZX81, VIC-20, Atari 8-bit computers, ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64. Having been studying physics at the University of East Anglia, success in the programming industry prompted him to drop his studies and take up video game development full-time.

For the first few weeks there was novelty even in the act of typing itself – and seeing letters appear not on paper but in glowing phosphor on the screen. For most of my life, the TV had been entirely a one-way device, and only relatively recently had the arrival of videogames started to change that. To actually be able to write on a screen in this way seemed strange and rather cool

The following year, he founded the software house Llamasoft. His first Llamasoft game was a Defender clone for the Commodore VIC-20 called Andes Attack (US version: Aggressor). In Andes Attack, little llamas advanced upon and attacked the player instead of the spaceships from Defender. As a fan of Defender, Minter would remake it again as Defender 2000. Through the Brighton-based software house, Salamander Software, Minter had his games written for the Spectrum and other home microcomputers. It was Mr S.A. Tenquist who was responsible for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 16K version of Gridrunner. The conversion was released and published for Christmas 1983 by Quicksilva Ltd., UK. Jeff Minter’s original Commodore version was written in a week and marked his first commercial success both in the UK and in the US.

Minter went on to develop a number of classic games, all written in assembly language, for the later home computers (such as the Commodore 64, Atari 400, Atari 800 and Atari ST) which were marketed mainly by word of mouth and by the occasional magazine advertisement. These games included: Gridrunner, Abductor, Matrix: Gridrunner 2, Hellgate, Hover Bovver, Attack of the Mutant Camels, Revenge of the Mutant Camels, Return of the Mutant Camels, Laser Zone, Mama Llama, Metagalactic Llamas Battle at the Edge of Time, Sheep in Space, Voidrunner, and Iridis Alpha.

VISIT —> The Llamasoft website